Where do you start? - Well where do you finish? That could be a better question. Do I have song writing tips? Not really, I know we all find our own way eventually but there are techniques that you find useful and these are worth passing on which I will do from time to time.
Is it easier to start with the lyrics or the music? Would you be better writing on your own or with someone else? If you are attempting to make a million writing the latest hit what style do you write in? Are you making it all so complicated that the enjoyment can disappear and you actually dry up?
Well as is with a lot of artistic endeavours in life there is the old, by now cliché, no rules.
I personally don’t write to sell a hit (although I have had my share of this type of writing, hitless though). For me it is an artistic endeavour that is quite a selfish act and if other people enjoy what I do then that is fine, I’m glad and humble. I do this because I have a need to write songs, I like to experiment with lyrics and music but not particularly following a set pattern.
I have had my share of writing -Verse-Chorus-Verse-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus type songs and a good majority of smash hits follow this formula if not close to it, there may be a key change towards the end to add more interest. Now when I’m writing I do not even consider the format of the song, I can’t remember when I last wrote a bridge, the chorus just comes and sometimes it doesn’t, that’s the way I enjoy it.
The interest for me is in the flow of what comes and a lot of what I do now would never fit into standard radio formats but they do fit into an album format, just no real singles (although I could pick the odd one out of my tunes if radio came a calling and it is quite easy these days to have your songs played at an online radio music station).
Now I’m not knocking top 40 hit songs because there is a lot of satisfaction to be gained from listening to that perfect little pop song and I love them, always have but writing them is not for me anymore, but never say never (another clichéd line, but true).
There are a lot of cheap books online that may give you a few pointers and I may review one or two of these at some stage. You may find a dictionary thesaurus online which can prompt you for a direction, but it’s something I rarely use. I found a thesaurus hindered my natural flow of words and made what I wrote seem stilted, but everyone to their own method.
There are two things I would recommend if you wish to become a songwriter:
1.Write about what you know.
A songs lyric should mean something even if it is a 3 minute pop tune. I am however partial to progressive rock bands and who knows what those lyrics mean at times, but they have a feel and intention that goes with the music and because of this they are an important style of writing.
Read a lot of books, talk to a lot of people and as you go through life the stories will come, they will almost jump out at you at times. Find a relaxing spot, or write about your teen/middle aged angst but it has to mean something to you. You can’t expect someone else to connect with your lyric if you don’t find your own connection within what you are writing, write genuinely with purpose.
2.Give yourself time.
My best lyrics come at all times of the day, when I’m tired, when I’m wide awake, when I least feel like writing a song. I guess what I’m saying is if you sit down to write a song and nothing comes then the time is possibly not right. Don’t lose sleep, hey even in the middle of the night, things can come (keep that writing pad and pen by the side of the bed)
Learn guitar chords,as many new ones as possible, tune your guitar differently, there are endless ways to stimulate the brain, try them all.
I very rarely sit down to especially write a song anymore but I still write many songs. When the words present themselves the music quite often follows close behind, or it may be the other way around however I write when it comes, unforced.
Try writing poetry, write in a different way, make the mind twist a little and you’ll be surprised at the results.